Attention Bathing Beauties: This Swimsuit Flatters EveryBody


This Swimsuit Brand Flatters EveryBody

Shopping for a new bathing suit can be wrought with stress and emotional issues for women. Between feeling too exposed and trying to find a look that is flattering for your body type, women are gravitating more and more to the web for purchasing their beachwear, yet still face the unknown in terms of sizing, fit and material quality. Knowing this reality, two female entrepreneurs set out to create a line of swimwear that would take any negative side effects out of the swimwear shopping equation.

Enter Summersalt.

Founded by swimwear designer, Lori Coulter, and branding expert, Reshma Chamberlin, Summersalt is meant to flatter all women with classic styles that are at once fashion-forward, versatile and five times stronger than traditional bathing suits. The collection, which is made from durable recycled polyamide fabric tested on Olympic swimmers for wearability, is comprised of almost 200 pieces. To further help women feel at ease throughout the purchasing experience, Summersalt offers an innovative direct-to-customer retail model in which women can order a box of six looks, in addition to a “surprise" option, to try in the comfort of their own homes.

While the swimwear industry, which represents roughly $28 Billion, is certainly a crowded one, Coulter and Chamberlain believed there is room for disruption. Here, SWAAY gets the low-down on what gets these two forward-thinking entrepreneurs out of bed each day.

1. When did you launch the company? What were the first steps?

"We launched on May 23rd 2017, just in time for Memorial Day weekend and the unofficial start of summer. We closely examined the industry, our skillsets and the market opportunity and began drafting a plan of action. We really wanted to create a true direct-to-consumer brand and began working through the business model, the collection, the brand, the digital experience, fulfillment and all the other components that are required to create an impactful and scalable business," says Coulter.

2. Swimwear is such a crowded market. Where did you see white space?

"The swimwear market has historically been dominated by vertical retailers and licensed department store brands, with high cost structures and multiple middlemen. We know that consumers today prefer the convenience of shopping at home and expect quality for an affordable price. Summersalt cuts out the middleman and goes directly to the consumer to create a true direct-to-consumer swimwear category. By drawing from our extensive swimwear experience, we are able to offer our consumer a $200+ designer swimsuit for just $95," says Coulter.

"We created Summersalt to provide designer swimwear without the designer price tag, and a brand that stood for the way we live our lives - beyond the lounge chair."

-Lori Coulter

3. Can you speak a little about how women purchase swimsuits? Is it a more difficult purchase than other articles of clothing?

"Women try up to 20 swimsuits and shop multiple stores to find the right suit for them. Purchasing swimwear is often met with anxiety and over-sexualized images. At Summersalt we wanted to do things differently and make the swimwear shopping experience easy, affordable, fun and relatable. We created exceptional quality for the price point without sacrificing functionality. Our swimsuit fabric is strong, durable and luxurious," says Chamberlin.

4. What is your fashion philosophy? What makes your brand unique?

"When we set out to create Summersalt, we wanted to create a swimwear brand for women like us. These are women who love to explore, enjoy adventure and live life beyond the lounge chair, whether that was a slip-and-slide in a backyard or the beach in Tahiti. Our collection is athleisure-inspired without being exclusively for sports. We did away with most hardware to make it easy to put on and stay on, no matter what the adventure!" proclaims Chamberlin.

5. What made you choose the direct-to-consumer route? What are the pros and cons of this?

"Direct-to-consumer is the future of retail. Our collective experience working with other direct-to-consumer brands like M. Gemi and Rockets of Awesome have allowed us a front row seat to the incredible innovation and ability to create a much better experience and relationship with the consumer," says Chamberlin.

6. Can you speak a little about swimsuit trends right now? What's hot and what's not?

"One-pieces are more popular than ever and women of all ages are excited about this trend. Consumers also really like an updated take on traditional swimwear and want to incorporate swimwear that allows one to go from the beach, to hiking, to dinner by the sea," says Chamberlin.

7. Who is your consumer? Can you describe her?

"Our consumer is a woman who values adventure and experiences. She is an active participant in life and needs swimwear that can keep up and look great whether she's sea kayaking, playing beach volleyball or chasing after her kids at the pool. Our consumer is also increasingly price-sensitive but expects a high quality product," says Coulter.

8. How do you market your brand? How do people find you?

"Social media is an integral part of any business and we want to be where our consumer is. Our consumer finds products on Instagram and Facebook and through people she admires," says Chamberlin.

9. Can you share your 5-year-growth plan? Are you looking to expand into more categories and countries?

"We have lots of exciting plans over the next year – limited edition pieces and collections, interesting collaborations, pop-ups including our custom popsicle cart, and bringing Summersalt to women across the US!" exclaims Coulter.

10. Can you speak about confidence and how that plays a role in this market?

"In the past, women felt like they needed to look a certain way to wear a swimsuit in the summer months - a myth perpetuated by traditional swim ads that show perfect models in uncomfortable poses. But things are changing - now more than ever, women are supporting each other and becoming comfortable in their own skin. Summersalt is a brand for real women, living real lives. We always want our shoppers to feel beautiful, confident and bold," says Coulter.

11. What is the best piece of business advice or learning lesson you've received and why?

"In a life of the startup the highs are not as high as you think they are and the lows are not as low. Everything is a phase and you need grit to work through the problems and make sure to enjoy the successes along the way!" says Coulter.

"The grass is greener where you water it. In the fast-paced startup world we live in, it is very easy to get caught up in what other people are achieving and get trapped in self-doubt." says Chamberlin.

"I really believe in looking to others' success as inspiration and really putting the energy where you want to see results."

-Reshma Chamberlin

12. How does social media and sharing play into the line?

"We know where our customers are and they are spending more and more time online on platforms like Instagram. We wanted to create an open dialogue with consumers and also create content that she would really enjoy.

We have a cocktail series every Friday called Summersalt Happy Hour where we share summer-inspired cocktails to keep our consumers entertained. Our consumer shares Insta-images, stories, emails and more about her adventures in Summersalt," says Chamberlin.

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Do 2020 Presidential Candidates Still Have Rules to Play By?

Not too many years ago, my advice to political candidates would have been pretty simple: "Don't do or say anything stupid." But the last few elections have rendered that advice outdated.

When Barack Obama referred to his grandmother as a "typical white woman" during the 2008 campaign, for example, many people thought it would cost him the election -- and once upon a time, it probably would have. But his supporters were focused on the values and positions he professed, and they weren't going to let one unwise comment distract them. Candidate Obama didn't even get much pushback for saying, "We're five days away from fundamentally transforming the United States of America." That statement should have given even his most ardent supporters pause, but it didn't. It was in line with everything Obama had previously said, and it was what his supporters wanted to hear.

2016: What rules?

Fast forward to 2016, and Donald Trump didn't just ignore traditional norms, he almost seemed to relish violating them. Who would have ever dreamed we'd elect a man who talked openly about grabbing women by the **** and who was constantly blasting out crazy-sounding Tweets? But Trump did get elected. Why? Some people believe it was because Americans finally felt like they had permission to show their bigotry. Others think Obama had pushed things so far to the left that right-wing voters were more interested in dragging public policy back toward the middle than in what Trump was Tweeting.

Another theory is that Trump's lewd, crude, and socially unacceptable behavior was deliberately designed to make Democrats feel comfortable campaigning on policies that were far further to the left than they ever would have attempted before. Why? Because they were sure America would never elect someone who acted like Trump. If that theory is right, and Democrats took the bait, Trump's "digital policies" served him well.

And although Trump's brash style drew the most handlines, he wasn't the only one who seemed to have forgotten the, "Don't do or say anything stupid," rule. Hillary Clinton also made news when she made a "basket of deplorables" comment at a private fundraiser, but it leaked out, and it dogged her for the rest of the election cycle.

And that's where we need to start our discussion. Now that all the old rules about candidate behavior have been blown away, do presidential candidates even need digital policies?

Yes, they do. More than ever, in my opinion. Let me tell you why.

Digital policies for 2020 and beyond

While the 2016 election tossed traditional rules about political campaigns to the trash heap, that doesn't mean you can do anything you want. Even if it's just for the sake of consistency, candidates need digital policies for their own campaigns, regardless of what anybody else is doing. Here are some important things to consider.

Align your digital policies with your campaign strategy

Aside from all the accompanying bells and whistles, why do you want to be president? What ideological beliefs are driving you? If you were to become president, what would you want your legacy to be? Once you've answered those questions honestly, you can develop your campaign strategy. Only then can you develop digital policies that are in alignment with the overall purpose -- the "Why?" -- of your campaign:

  • If part of your campaign strategy, for example, is to position yourself as someone who's above the fray of the nastiness of modern politics, then one of your digital policies should be that your campaign will never post or share anything that attacks another candidate on a personal level. Attacks will be targeted only at the policy level.
  • While it's not something I would recommend, if your campaign strategy is to depict the other side as "deplorables," then one of your digital policies should be to post and share every post, meme, image, etc. that supports your claim.
  • If a central piece of your platform is that detaining would-be refugees at the border is inhumane, then your digital policies should state that you will never say, post, or share anything that contradicts that belief, even if Trump plans to relocate some of them to your own city. Complaining that such a move would put too big a strain on local resources -- even if true -- would be making an argument for the other side. Don't do it.
  • Don't be too quick to share posts or Tweets from supporters. If it's a text post, read all of it to make sure there's not something in there that would reflect negatively on you. And examine images closely to make sure there's not a small detail that someone may notice.
  • Decide what your campaign's voice and tone will be. When you send out emails asking for donations, will you address the recipient as "friend" and stress the urgency of donating so you can continue to fight for them? Or will you personalize each email and use a more low-key, collaborative approach?

Those are just a few examples. The takeaway is that your online behavior should always support your campaign strategy. While you could probably get away with posting or sharing something that seems mean or "unpresidential," posting something that contradicts who you say you are could be deadly to your campaign. Trust me on this -- if there are inconsistencies, Twitter will find them and broadcast them to the world. And you'll have to waste valuable time, resources, and public trust to explain those inconsistencies away.

Remember that the most common-sense digital policies still apply

The 2016 election didn't abolish all of the rules. Some still apply and should definitely be included in your digital policies:

  1. Claim every domain you can think of that a supporter might type into a search engine. Jeb Bush not claiming www.jebbush.com (the official campaign domain was www.jeb2016.com) was a rookie mistake, and he deserved to have his supporters redirected to Trump's site.
  2. Choose your campaign's Twitter handle wisely. It should be obvious, not clever or cutesy. In addition, consider creating accounts with possible variations of the Twitter handle you chose so that no one else can use them.
  3. Give the same care to selecting hashtags. When considering a hashtag, conduct a search to understand its current use -- it might not be what you think! When making up new hashtags, try to avoid anything that could be hijacked for a different purpose -- one that might end up embarrassing you.
  4. Make sure that anyone authorized to Tweet, post, etc., on your behalf has a copy of your digital policies and understands the reasons behind them. (People are more likely to follow a rule if they understand why it's important.)
  5. Decide what you'll do if you make an online faux pas that starts a firestorm. What's your emergency plan?
  6. Consider sending an email to supporters who sign up on your website, thanking them for their support and suggesting ways (based on digital policies) they can help your messaging efforts. If you let them know how they can best help you, most should be happy to comply. It's a small ask that could prevent you from having to publicly disavow an ardent supporter.
  7. Make sure you're compliant with all applicable regulations: campaign finance, accessibility, privacy, etc. Adopt a double opt-in policy, so that users who sign up for your newsletter or email list through your website have to confirm by clicking on a link in an email. (And make sure your email template provides an easy way for people to unsubscribe.)
  8. Few people thought 2016 would end the way it did. And there's no way to predict quite yet what forces will shape the 2020 election. Careful tracking of your messaging (likes, shares, comments, etc.) will tell you if you're on track or if public opinion has shifted yet again. If so, your messaging needs to shift with it. Ideally, one person should be responsible for monitoring reaction to the campaign's messaging and for raising a red flag if reactions aren't what was expected.

Thankfully, the world hasn't completely lost its marbles

Whatever the outcome of the election may be, candidates now face a situation where long-standing rules of behavior no longer apply. You now have to make your own rules -- your own digital policies. You can't make assumptions about what the voting public will or won't accept. You can't assume that "They'll never vote for someone who acts like that"; neither can you assume, "Oh, I can get away with that, too." So do it right from the beginning. Because in this election, I predict that sound digital policies combined with authenticity will be your best friend.